Cogs In The Machine

Here’s an interesting bit on hiring called “Hunting the 5-pound Butterfly”.

This is interesting to me because my resumé is ridiculous. I’ve been pruning it for years because listing all the tools I’ve worked with is absurd. It does get me some interesting job interviews but seldom any actual jobs. And I’ve lost out on jobs because I had a specific subset of skills, but wouldn’t commit to having experience on a finer point that I was sure my interviewer didn’t actually understand.

Yet I consider my experience a fraction of my worth. And perhaps this goes back to being easily bored. Even if employment goes on for years, any given job should, in my view, be temporary. In other words, if I’m hired to do X, I want to do X in such a way that it doesn’t have to be done again, or in such a way that someone else can do it most of the time. Then I go on to do Y.

Often Y is something my employer never imagined me doing. Sometimes it’s something they didn’t imagine could be done. (I’m not suggesting any wizardry on my part, more a lack of imagination about how computers can be applied to problems.)

But 99% of employers–no matter how obsessed they may be with never ever bearing the cost for improving the skills of their employers–would not hire me (or anyone) on that basis. Nor on the basis that my free time tends to find me developing skills that will prove handy in my job. (My current boss is rather canny in that regard: He’ll hire someone with a kick-ass work ethic to do something they’re expert in, even though the project is relatively short-term. He knows his person will transition easily to new tasks.)

It’s the cog-in-the-machine mentality. Employers want to hire the perfect fit even though they don’t really know what that is. They think they do, for sure. Because they also figure that when job A is over, and job B pops up, they’ll fire the guy doing job A and hire a new perfect fit for job B. And of course, at no premium.

One might think that the dynamism of the past 30 years would have educated employers: Adaptability is the key element for any employee. Adaptability in the form of a willingness to learn and master change.

But I guess I’m biased here.